Book Review: City of Bones (part 3)
I’d apologize for the delay, but actually I’ve been using all my free time lately to play the Ace Attorney games and I have no regrets and thus no apologies.
This chapter’s kinda short, but, on the plus side, it looks like the next chapter might involve things happening.
City of Bones: Chapter Three – Shadowhunter
The two kids get to the poetry reading, which looks like it’s going to be horrible. Clary suggests they make a run for it, but Simon says he promised he’d be there. He goes to get them coffee while Clary finds a place for them to sit.
After she sits down, a blonde girl seated nearby leans over to ask Clary if she’s dating Simon. When Clary says she isn’t, the girl asks if Simon has a girlfriend. Clary says no, and the girl asks if he’s gay. Just then, Simon returns and we are spared the answer to this question, which we all know is gonna be “no” anyway.
You know, just once I wanna see a story where one or both of the guys in the love triangle is queer. Bisexual or pansexual, maybe, so that he can be crushing on the girl but also on the other dude. And then it leads to polyamory or something. I dunno. We just need more queer characters, and also this love triangle business is getting hella boring.
Clary stares at Simon when he comes back with the coffee and tries to ascertain whether or not he’s good-looking. She concedes that he has nice eyes and could look good with a different haircut. Simon notices Clary staring and asks what’s up, and she tells him that the girl seated nearby thinks that he’s cute. The conversation is conveniently interrupted yet again by the poetry reading starting.
As predicted, it’s awful. Simon’s friend Eric is a simply dreadful poet. This part’s actually decently funny — there’s a good line about how all Eric’s poems have loins in them. After a few paragraphs of snarking on Eric’s bad poetry, Clary tries to change the subject back to the girl who thinks Simon is cute. Simon tells her he has something he wants to tell her. Hoo boy.
I mean, credit where it’s due; at least this proves the author is intentionally being obvious about Simon’s crush on Clary, and if he actually manages to confess to her this early on it could change the later love triangle dynamic in interesting ways (usually the secondary love interest, in this case Simon, doesn’t get to confess first). However, what with the way every conversation thus far in this chapter has been conveniently interrupted, and given Clary’s general cluelessness about the situation, I doubt he’ll manage to get his confession out, so this won’t change anything.
Simon awkwardly says he wants to talk to Clary about how he doesn’t have a girlfriend, and Clary suggests he ask out Jaida Jones, who is apparently a schoolmate of hers and “one of the few girls at [her school] she actually [likes]”. Man, I hate to nitpick, but I really do have a nit to pick with this. Dear authors: stop making your teenage female characters dislike all or most of their teenage female peers. This whole “I’m not like the other girls” trope is misogynist, since it relies on your protagonist putting down the rest of her gender in order to make herself look good. We also need to stop telling teen girls that it’s normal and expected for them to hate other girls their own age. It’s not normal. It’s internalized misogyny.
Simon says he doesn’t wanna ask out this Jaida person because he likes someone else already. Clary asks him if he’s gay, just so that we can get the confirmation that he isn’t, I guess. Also, Simon says that if he were gay, he would dress better, which got me thinking about how sexuality supposedly correlates with fashion sense. So gay guys dress better than straight guys, but what if you’re bisexual? Does it cancel out or something? What if you’re pansexual? I mean, I’m a pansexual dude and last night I went to bed wearing boxers and a Captain Underpants t-shirt.
Got a bit sidetracked there. Anyway, just as Simon’s either about to confess to his crush on Clary or try and weasel his way out of the “who do you like?” question she’s just posed, Clary hears someone cough loudly and derisively behind her. She turns and sees Jace sitting on a couch nearby. Simon asks her what’s up; he’s following her gaze, but obviously isn’t able to see Jace.
Jace waves at Clary, then gets up to leave. She springs to her feet and follows him, telling Simon she’ll be right back.
Outside, Jace greets her by telling her that Eric’s poetry sucks. Clary demands to know why he’s following her, he acts really condescending and treats her like a child, blah blah blah. Nothing worth summarizing happens for about a page and a half. Jace asks Clary to show him her right hand, explaining that most Shadowhunter kids get Marked (yes, capital M) on their dominant hand when they’re young. The rune in question is permanent — unlike the ones Jace and co. used against the demon the other day, which are single-use — and grants the Marked person a bit of extra weapons skill. Jace shows her his own, which Clary at first is unable to see until she lets her “mind relax”.
Jace goes into a bit more info-dump for Clary’s sake, which seems kinda weird as earlier he was acting super condescending towards her, but okay. Incidentally, I’m wondering what the age difference between these two is. Clary’s only fifteen, so, yeah, she really is a kid. I can’t imagine Jace is any older than seventeen, though, and he certainly seems to like treating her like a baby.
Once he’s finished explaining about the Marks to her, Jace tells her that they have to leave. He’s bringing her back to “the Institute”, to meet with some bloke named Hodge, who wants to talk to Clary because apparently no mundie has known about Shadowhunters in at least a century. Clary asks what happens if she refuses to go, at which point Jace essentially threatens to kidnap her. Just then, Clary’s phone rings, and she finally decides to answer.
Her mom, sounding frantic, warns her not to come home under any circumstances, to go to Simon’s house instead and [loud shattering noise] call Luke and tell him that someone’s found her [sound of wood splintering] [slithering noise] “I love you, Clary.” [line goes dead]
Clary freaks out and immediately calls her mom back, but she just gets a busy tone. She tries to call one more time, but her hands are shaking and the phone slips out of her grasp. Frantically, she snatches what she thinks is a phone out of Jace’s pocket — he informs her as she does so that it’s actually a “Sensor” and she won’t be able to use it — and snaps at him that she needs to call the police. He grabs her wrist and asks her to tell him what happened so he can help, but she scratches at his face, pulls free, and runs towards home.
Thoughts So Far:
Well, the action’s picking up. Unfortunately, the action picking up also coincided with the author’s prose slipping in quality. This chapter’s high point prose-wise was when the characters were snarking at Eric’s bad poetry; from there it just kinda went downhill.
Jace is obnoxious in the way that handsome dudes in fiction sometimes are — you know, that sort of obnoxiousness that’s supposed to be kinda sexy, or alluring, or whatever. Clary’s responses to him have made it clear that his behavior is in-universe intended as obnoxious, though, which at least puts this a step above Twilight. Jace is an asshole, canonically. We’re going to be expected to like him despite, or because, of that fact, later on, but the fact remains that he’s canonically an asshole, and, well… if we’re going to take that route, I guess it could have been done a lot worse.
The sexual tension between the two is there, but not smack-you-in-the-face-with-it there. I’d say it’s most apparent when Clary shows Jace her hand and her narration remarks that she feels exposed doing this, as though she’s showing him her bare chest. It’s also clear on Jace’s side, since, like I said, he’s playing predictably into the trope of good-looking jerkass-with-a-heart-of-gold flirts-with-girls-by-acting-condescending antihero boy — in fact, he reads like a Draco in leather pants, which isn’t at all surprising if you remember that the author’s responsible for that term. I’m pretty sure Jace was inspired by, or even an expy of, the author’s take on Draco Malfoy.
Really, though, there’s not a whole lot I can say to this chapter. We got a little more about Jace, but not enough to make me like him. Clary still doesn’t stand out in my mind much as a character, but protagonists don’t always manage to do so right away. The plot’s going somewhere, but where remains to be seen. I’m reserving judgement.
I’m seeing the Buffy-inspired humor pretty clearly here, though. That’s not a bad thing, per se, just perhaps worth noting. Makes me wonder if the author started coming up with this story directly as a result of writing her Draco Trilogy; from what little I’ve heard and seen of said trilogy, this book seems to share some of the same characteristics and mood. Minus the blatant plagiarism, hopefully.